Battle of the Sexes Screen 14 articles

Battle of the Sexes

2017

Battle of the Sexes Poster
  • “Battle of the Sexes” deals with bigger figures, a more overtly politicized world of gender, sexuality and power, but the imperfect messy individuals are foregrounded, and Jon and Val’s direction gives these characters cinematic space. Their camera finds them lost in moments that can’t be described or reduced to a plot point, their filmmaking honors the characters and events with ambiguity!

  • A formulaic underdog story that retrofits fashionably woke contemporary sentiments into a 1970s setting, telling the story of a tennis match between ranked player Billie Jean King and ex-champ and flimflam man Bobby Riggs. If not for Emma Stone’s performance as King, the way she brings to flesh the pain of a woman wrestling with culturally indoctrinated neuroses, the film would be disposable and sunk by Steve Carell’s predictable hyperventilating as Riggs.

  • Emma Stone plays Billie Jean King and she’s surprisingly good. I love Emma Stone but when I think “world-class athlete” I don’t think “Emma Stone.” But Stone gets the competitive jock vibe, the independence of this woman … her fearlessness at going up against an unfair system. Carell is excellent too, and the film really makes the case that he wasn’t a bad or evil guy. He was more of a PT Barnum type.

  • No sport reflects the spirit of one-on-one competition like tennis, and there are two movies battling for supremacy inside Battle of the Sexes... The first movie is a witty, purposeful period-piece parable whose time has very much come... But for all its embedded tension and power — and expertly engineered moments of pure, crowd-pleasing elation — Battle of the Sexes is also an example of the kind of cautious, calculated film and filmmaking that does progressive subject matter no favors.

  • It breaks little new ground as either a sports film or a lesbian romance, but it’s lively, funny, and, if you’re unlucky enough to be a feminist in 2017, vicariously wish-fulfilling. The period costumes by Mary Zophres are aces, as is the period soundtrack, with Elton John’s “Rocket Man” playing a key role at one uplifting moment.

  • In some scenes of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s movie, [Emma Stone] sports Steinem-esque aviator frames, in others round Lennon-style specs. The fastidiousness about the central shero’s eyewear becomes an apt metaphor for Battle of the Sexes, in which hindsight is always twenty-twenty. The story of a remarkable woman and her remarkable accomplishments suffers, as too many LGBTQ-themed twenty-first-century docudramas do, from an accretion of it-gets-better telegraphing.

  • Ms. Faris and Mr. Dayton handle the many moving parts in Simon Beaufoy’s busy script smoothly as they toggle between intimate moments and public events, and set Billie Jean’s bedroom sighs off against Bobby’s heat-seeking braggadocio. There’s a lot to follow and a great deal to look at, including an atmospherically embellished past that turns the movie into a veritable wayback machine of amusing and amusingly unfortunate colors and choices.

  • The performances in Battle of the Sexes, agile and perceptive, keep the game alive every minute. Carell plays Riggs more as an affable, unenlightened boob than a villainous creep. And although the incandescently elfin Stone doesn't much resemble King--who always looked both refined and California-friendly--she nails King's thoughtful directness. She also captures King's marvelous antelope saunter, the casual grace this superb athlete radiated when she wasn't running for the ball.

  • It’s almost as though Beaufoy can’t help but turn this film into a cheesy romance packed with saccharine Hollywood dialogue. Should I have expected something else from the writer of the ultimate damsel-in-distress fairy tale, Slumdog Millionaire? Difficult situations get magically solved by poetically vague lines, and characters never lose their tempers or feel extraordinarily bad, as they might in life; everyone here seems to know exactly what to say and when to say it.

  • Faris and Dayton have done their homework. They take visual inspiration from the films of the late 1960s and early ’70s to study their characters through telephoto lenses and the inbuilt frames of high-rise hotels, motor lodge motels, mid-century lobbies, and vintage TVs. There are brief, lovely moments throughout, invested in the contradictions of the tour lifestyle—constantly moving from place to place and feeling lonely while surrounded by the same group of outspoken characters.

  • Dayton and Faris mostly keep things simple on court and off, and work hard to persuade us that a facile publicity stunt stands as a significant landmark in the fight for equality. That’s a stretch and a half, but still, you will want Billie Jean to prove her point, and that’s game, set and match for this tidy crowd-pleaser.

  • The film's structural imbalance, though, is emblematic of the both-sidedness it's meant to combat. Where the stretches of the film that focus on Riggs's schemes and drifting lifestyle are ambling and rudderless, those that are meant to illuminate King are too often terse and perfunctory.

  • Served up with star turns from Emma Stone and Steve Carell, Battle Of The Sexes slams a crowdpleaser across the net. An agile screenplay from Simon Beaufoy and nicely modulated direction from the Little Miss Sunshine duo results in an engaging drama.

  • Faris and Dayton also do a decent professional job, but without a trickle of inspiration or creating any moments that linger. The spectacle’s basic beats are all there... So, too, are a bunch of soapier, semi-fictional domestic scenes that explore Billie Jean discovering her lesbian identity while in a fairly loveless marriage to a nice, supportive husband. Things are all properly in place, and they’re all so forgettable.

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